Theatre owners divided on Kaala response
With the Rajinikanth film set for release tomorrow, social media has been abuzz with reports that ticket sales for Kaala has been fairly lukewarm
With Kaala set for release tomorrow, social media has been abuzz with reports that ticket sales for Kaala has been fairly lukewarm. Unlike Kabali, which was released in over 4000 screens, Kaala is getting released in 2000-2500 screens. It's getting 600 screens in Tamil Nadu; 150 in Kerala; 600 in AP & Telengana, and about 1000 screens in North India. Kabali had some of the biggest promotions ever seen, with an entire Air Asia flight plastered with the face of Rajini. Kalaipuli Thanu, the producer of Kabali, went all out to promote the film. Wunderbar Films, however, is approaching this differently. Vinoth, Executive Producer, Wunderbar, says, "Whatever has been necessary with respect to marketing has been done. We have posters, we have paper ads, and we have smart social media content. It is not like we didn't get requests to plaster a huge poster on a ship in North Chennai. But we have chosen to not indulge in needless hype and marketing. We believe in the power of Rajinikanth and in our story." On the topic of tickets still showing as available on online platforms, he says, "The ticketing system is such that even if one ticket is available, it has to show as available. If you go and check across theatres, you will know that the film has indeed got great bookings across the board."
Tirupur Subramaniam, who's distributing Kaala in Coimbatore, is also positive about the film's success. "Till now, all these big films with stars used to sell tickets at high prices because most of these theatres would have picked up the film at huge Minimum Guarantees (MG). There is no MG in Coimbatore and even Dhanush has directed us to use percentages for profit sharing. We usually get 10-13 per cent profit of the film's run, but for Kaala, we will get 30 per cent. It is a great trend that will help the health of theatres. This move by the producers means that we are pricing the tickets at not more than 100 rupees at any theatre in the Coimbatore area, other than in multiplexes where we have priced it at Rs 150. We didn't get a lot of repeat audiences for Kabali, but we are sure that for Kaala we will get repeat audiences as is usually the case with a Rajini film." He is confident that the film will fare better than Kabali. "Usually, we get 50-60 screens, but we have 98 screens this time around. For Kabali, we had only 60 screens. June usually gets only 30 per cent occupancy, but with Kaala, we are expecting it to stabilise at 70-75 per cent."
Ticketnew, one of the premium ticket booking sites, says it is cautious about opening bookings early. "We have 18 theatres but we haven't yet opened the booking for all screens for July 7. There is a distinct possibility of people buying early and selling these tickets for higher prices. So to avoid that and to ensure that actual fans get the tickets, we have taken such a step."
Nikilesh Surya, owner of Rohini cinemas, believes that the release date is to blame for the lower than expected advance bookings. "The film would have got a much better opening if they had released the film during the summer holidays. If they had released the film as initially planned, things would've been different. We are expecting a 70-80 per cent occupancy on the weekends. Kabali had massive advanced bookings and the tickets for the weekend were sold out days ahead of its release. If the audience find the film to be really good, the bookings will pick up."
Rakesh of Vetri Theatre agrees, and also believes that the combination of Rajini and Ranjith in Kabali didn't go well with the audience. "The Kaala trailer is subtle unlike Kabali, which was overhyped and resulted in a spectacular backfire. I would say that the bookings are really good if it was an ordinary film, but considering that this is a Rajini sir film, the bookings are nowhere close to Kabali or Endhiran. Kaala has received only 50 per cent of the bookings of those films. I strongly feel that the general audience are waiting for the review." He adds that the political entry of Rajini and the controversies surrounding them might have also fractured Superstar's universal fan base.
Srinivasan of Murugan Cinemas does not want to talk about either of these reasons. "Right now, we have 70-75 per cent booking. I think we will get that continuing into the next week, once parents are done dealing with school opening."
SPI Cinemas is however totally optimistic about all its properties, including in Coimbatore. "We are completely booked the first two days. And we are fully confident that before the first show of Kaala opens, we will be booked out for the weekend too."